Did you catch Q&A on Monday night, the last programme for the year? If so, and if you have an ear for the sort of comments apt to pave a path to the courthouse, the following exchange quite likely pricked it:
TERRI BUTLER: what I really hope out of this… What I really hope out of this is that we stop seeing this martyrdom of people like Bill Leak, whose cartoon was racist. It was a racist cartoon.
ERIC ABETZ: It wasn’t.
TERRI BUTLER: Let’s just say what it is.
ERIC ABETZ: It wasn’t.
ERIC ABETZ: But the process…
TERRI BUTLER: And I notice that when people talk about those QUT students, they never mention the fact that one of them was alleged to have used the N word – I’m not going to say it – the N word in one of those Facebook posts.
ERIC ABETZ: Which he denied.
TERRI BUTLER: We never found out.
GREG SHERIDAN: He said that was not him. He said that that was not him.
TERRI BUTLER: He would say that, wouldn’t he?
GREG SHERIDAN: You’re presuming his guilt on national television but there’s no evidence against him.
TERRI BUTLER: I’m saying this is what the allegations were.
GREG SHERIDAN:That is a racist smear in itself.
BENJAMIN LAW: Tony, can we hear from a racial minority, please?
TERRI BUTLER: I’m not smearing anyone.
GREG SHERIDAN: You’ve smeared Bill Leak, who is certainly not a racist. Let me tell you, Bill Leak is no racist. That is a disgraceful… Your diatribe is disgraceful. You’ve smeared this QUT student.
TERRI BUTLER: I know how the law works. I know how the Commission works.
GREG SHERIDAN: No evidence against him.
TERRI BUTLER: I’m sick of the fact-free zone in this debate.
Today, the Australian‘s Hedley Thomas reports:
The Labor parliamentarian who smeared a Queensland University of Technology student as a racist and perjurer on the ABC’s Q&A program got a formal response yesterday — a defamation action filed in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
Terri Butler, the federal member for the inner-Brisbane seat of Griffith, will have until just before Christmas to file her defence to the proceedings launched yesterday by QUT student Calum Thwaites.
A 21-page statement of claim, prepared by Tony Morris QC, seeks damages, aggravated damages and interest “not exceeding the jurisdiction of this court’’, which awards up to $150,000.
Thomas’ report can be read by those with an Australian subscription via the link below. Others may be able to access it, but there is no way to be sure.